Thursday, 26 February 2015

This is not my life.

One of our bloggers, Jess, has shared her feelings of suddenly living a different life the day her daughter died.  How everything she dreamed of when she was pregnant is now lost in another life.   

If you would like to talk to someone about your experiences, feelings or emotions, please know that Sands Parent Supporters are available 24/7. Details can be found on our website here.

Imagine you are a beautiful young woman, you are about to graduate university and there is an amazing job waiting for you. Your life is perfect, and the whole world is ahead of you. Then one day you wake up and you are broke, living on the streets under a cardboard shelter. You have the same name, you are the same person, but you are living a different life and you don't know how you got there.

This is what if felt like the day we lost our daughter Isobel. I was still me, but it wasn't my life anymore, and every day since has felt the same.

It starts the moment you leave the hospital, as you walk silently through the doors out into the day, emerging as a person you don't recognise. Your empty arms ache as you walk past the couple packing their new baby into their new car seat, and you imagine them driving home at 20km/h while peeping into the back seat every second and sometimes more. But you can't even look in the side mirror, fearing the reflection of an empty back seat staring back at you. This isn't your car, it can't be. The car you bought 9 months earlier with the extra safety, extra seats, and with extra height to make it easier to get your baby in and out. Instead this car was empty, it had no life anymore.

You sit alone in the backyard feeling tortured by the silence of your house, desperately wanting to hear a baby's cry, but instead you hear the children next door bursting out into their yard to play. You sleep in till 10:00 but you feel cheated by what used to be a pleasure. There are no sleepless nights or tired red eyes, as much as you wish for them every morning at 10:01. But the undisturbed sleep does not give you the extra energy it should. You lie in your ruffled sheets, your teeth feel furry and you're hungry, but you still can't move. You know the silent empty house is waiting for you outside the bedroom door, most especially that room you painted a few months ago. The room with the pretty pictures, the pram and cot you spent hours putting together, and the draws full of tiny clothes that will never be worn.  

Leaving the house is no escape. Walks to the beach are haunted by mothers groups taking advantage of a warm day outside with their babies, or the fitness mums power-pushing their prams or the mums teaching their toddlers to ride a bike. For the first few weeks you can't even look at them, you simply walk at a faster pace to pass them quicker, and you keep your head low so they can't see your tears. But after a while you learn to lift your head and catch their eye, that's when you notice the look on their face. They are thinking how lucky you are to have the free time to walk alone on the beach. How lucky you are to not have a heavy pram to push. If only they knew your pain, you think to yourself, if only they knew how much you would give anything just to push a heavy pram or sit on the shady lawn and boast about your daughter being in the higher percentile for height. The supermarket, the shopping malls, the train stations; everywhere mums are being mums, but you are just you, lonelier than ever.

You are thankful for the government cheques you are still eligible for, and you enjoy seeing "parental leave" on your fortnightly bank statements because in that small way you fit into a mum's world. But eventually the assistance will run out, and you won't have any choice but to go back to work. The first day is tough, you try and motivate yourself by doing your hair and makeup and wearing your nicest work dress, but the truth weighs you down - you shouldn't be going back this early, you should be at home with your baby. You check your Facebook in between work emails, and see new mum's posting monthly birthdays of their babies, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, it's all going so fast they say. But here you are, at work, knowing a lonely house is waiting for you when you leave.

Friends who were pregnant around the same time begin to have their babies. Their healthy babies. You receive the arrival message, the type you never got to send, and reading the words "mum and bubs are doing well" feels like razor blades in your heart. Why does it seem so easy, and why did you fail? You picture them going home with their new baby, scared they won't know what they're doing, changing one hundred nappies a day, getting no sleep for the first few weeks and wishing for just 20 minutes of uninterrupted rest. They share their complaints about exhaustion with you, but their life is everything your life was meant to be.

The only thing that keeps you going is your hope that one day you will find your life again.

If you require support after reading this blog 
please contact
Sands on 13 000 72637

Jess Schulz

Living in quiet beachside Adelaide, Jess is a fundraising officer for Motor Neurone Disease SA, freelance graphic designer, and social blogger. Married for 5 years (together for 12), Jess and her husband experienced the saddened loss of their first child in 2014 at 40 weeks. Their daughter Isobel Lola, passed away 6 days after she was born. A perfect pregnancy ended with a cord prolapse during labour, and now Jess and her husband are walking the road of grief while trying to survive each day without their Isobel. Love, hope and support are the essence of their survival, and Jess has chosen to share their story on Sands to hopefully support other bereaved parents walking this road too.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The things we must do

Jessica continues to share with Sands her precious Emma - the realisation that the family would need to organise a funeral for their special little girl.

A few hours after our world came crashing down I remember sitting on our couch, trying to muster the strength to unpack the baby items from my pre packed hospital bag and it dawned on me, we would have to arrange a funeral!

Never in my life did I imagine I'd have to do such a thing, it was quite literally the last experience in the world that I wanted to go through on top of everything else that was soon to come.

We are extremely fortunate to have a terrific support system in friends and

family so we called on the help of my Dad and Father In-Law who made all the arrangements and footed the bill, which was an enormous gesture to us.

Late one night (or early one morning) shortly after Emma was born, I was pacing the house. Unable to sleep, unable to cry, unable to feel anything but the pain of absence in my heart and within my body. Furiously spiralling I put my emotions at that moment onto paper.

Her funeral service was simply beautiful. Her tiny white coffin adorned with a dainty flower wreath of pinks and whites, sat in front of us while her song played harmoniously around us. A song I'd sang to her almost every day throughout our 39 weeks together. We sat, the three of us and cried and smiled and loved our little girl, Adams little sister.

We had the celebrant read the words I had written for her that night, which I entitled “How”

                    How can you love someone you never truly met?
                    How can you miss someone you don’t really know?
                    How can she be gone?
                    How is this fair?
                    How. Can. This. Be!

                    How beautiful she was,
                    How special was our short time together,
                    How she’ll always be in our hearts,
                    How she gives us hope for the future,

                    How she’ll forever be our perfect baby girl <3

In the days and weeks after we said our final goodbye we banded together, Shane, Adam and I. We packed up the bassinet, put away all the clothes I had gotten out from Adam's hand me downs. Finally I uninstalled her baby car seat, I was starting to feel like a crazy person driving around with a baby seat but it was the hardest thing to take away. It was like forcing me to admit defeat, to admit that she would never need to use it.

Eventually the evidence of her presence within me faded bit by bit. The week my hair started shedding like it had when my boy was 3 months old, her birth certificate arrived. A friend described receiving her sleeping little girl's birth certificate like, ‘reminding me that she really was here, even for a short time.’

I've often thought that losing Emma was unfair but that’s not totally accurate. Unfair is having to share the news with friends and family, unfair is making funeral arrangements, unfair is, from now on, having to explain to people that yes we do have 2 children, only that one of them is in Heaven.

There'll always be these terrible things that we must do, I can only hope and pray that one day, the hurt will become more bearable, that we'll find some peace, until we meet again…                                                     Jessica

If you require support after reading this blog please contact 
Sands on 13 000 72637

Jessica Lawless

Jessica lives in Victoria. She is the wife to Shane and a Mum to 2 beautiful kids - Adam, nearly 2 and Emma, born sleeping August 2014.
I like to practice yoga, cook, read and spend all my time being a SAHM with Adam. My family and friends are my whole world, there is barley a distinction between the two.
I hope by being so open and honest about my experiences I can help raise awareness and provide support for others.